It shakes your faith for a more than just a moment. It makes you question why. The hurt runs so deep it takes your breath away and makes you wonder, “Could this really be part of God’s plan?”
As you sit in the ICU not knowing if your daughter will live or die, comfort comes in the form of a silent hug, and you know that God is there to give you hope and strength. As her mother, you walk beside your child who has suffered a brain injury. You lean on God in a way you never imagined, praying that his power and love will strengthen you to face the impossible.
Prayer is a powerful privilege. When my daughter sustained her severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), I prayed continually to God for her recovery and boldly asked him to make her life beautiful. God answers prayers, but I needed to be patient. Faith is more than just a word or a theory. Faith is God’s guide to living with, loving, and embracing someone with a brain injury.
If God had healed her suddenly, I would not have had the opportunity to walk this path with her. I would not have witnessed the miracles that God would perform in her life. I would have missed helping her face the challenges. I would not have fully understood the importance of her survival and the impact it would have on others and on me.
If there is a TBI survivor in your church, your life is one of those that will be impacted. Please take a little time to learn how to interact with them and how you can involve them in congregational life.
When such a person enters your life you may say, “She looks fine to me.” Our minds can accept a disability we can see, but we struggle to comprehend and accept the unseen.
Individuals with brain injuries live with cognitive challenges. They “look fine” until they speak, act, or interact with anyone who does not know them. Too often, fear and ignorance of their condition result in judgment and assumptions.
As survivors walk through life after brain injury, each moment brings change and challenge. Each interaction presents an instance of learning and retraining. The obstacles are too numerous to mention and too complicated to explain, and they last a lifetime.
It’s been 15 years since my daughter’s traumatic brain injury. She has been married for four years to another TBI survivor, and they are expecting their second child. They belong to a congregation that embraces them and the gifts they bring; they serve as greeters and as an usher.
If your flock includes a TBI survivor, know that each individual brings a unique relationship into your life. Talking with them, getting to know them, and accepting the nuances are each a small part of helping them find a new path in life. Praying with them and for them brings blessing both to you and them. Find ways to use their abilities in congregational life. You will play a key role in their ongoing healing!
Lois York-Lewis and her daughter Bari Rieth co-founded the Brain Injury Resource Center of Wisconsin, located in Waukesha. Read Bari’s story at bircofwi.org. Lois is a member at St. Paul, Muskego, Wis.
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